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21 on cruise ship off California test positive for virus

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Posted at 6:31 PM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 18:51:36-05

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Vice President Mike Pence says 21 people aboard a mammoth cruise ship off the California coast have tested positive for the new coronavirus, including 19 crew members.

Pence said Friday that the federal government is working with California officials on a plan to bring the 951-foot Grand Princess to a non-commercial port this weekend.

The 3,500 passengers and crew members will be tested for the virus.

Friday's test results come amid evidence the vessel was the breeding ground for a deadly cluster of at least 10 cases during its previous voyage.

The ship off California was returning to San Francisco after visiting Hawaii. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday that the ship won’t come to shore until the passengers are appropriately assessed.

The ship is owned by Princess Cruises, which also owns the Diamond Princess, the ship that was quarantined for two weeks in Yokohama, Japan, last month because of the virus. In the end, about 700 of the 3,700 people aboard became infected.

Meanwhile, the death toll from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus, has risen to 14, with all but one victim in Washington state. The other was in California.

Pennsylvania, Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Kentucky and Oklahoma all reported their first cases Friday.

Also on Friday, President Donald Trump signed a $8.3 billion funding bill to help public health agencies address the crisis. The bill was widely supported by lawmakers on both side of the aisle.

Worldwide, the virus has infected more than 100,000 people and killed over 3,400, with the vast majority of them in China. Most cases have been mild, and more than half of those infected have recovered.